Democrats, Republicans Qualify For Virginia Governor’s Race

By Brian Carlton

March 27, 2021

Democrats and Republicans qualified for the ballot, a few barely made the cut and others didn’t qualify.

RICHMOND-And now the primary field is set. Or convention field, depending on your party. Democratic and Republican candidates competing to be Virginia’s governor had to meet certain requirements this week in order to be included on their respective ballots. Some made it, although a couple finished filing just in time. For others, the deadline was an end to their race. 

That happened to three candidates on the Republican side. Merle Rutledge, Paul Davis and Kurt Santini failed to qualify for the May convention. It left seven Republicans and five Democrats moving forward, along with the two independent candidates. 

Now the requirements were different, because the parties chose different ways to nominate their candidate. Republicans had to submit a $14,000 filing fee Friday by 5 p.m. 

The group that filed in time included former Virginia Speaker Kirk Cox, current Virginia State Sen. Amanda Chase, former Carlyle Group CEO Glenn Youngkin, former CEO for the Center for European Policy Analysis Peter Doran and current Disruptor Capital executive Pete Snyder. Former Deputy Assist. Secretary of Defense Sergio Del La Pena and former Roanoke City sheriff Octavia Johnson rounded out the group.

These seven now advance to the May 8 unassembled convention, where Republicans will pick their nominee. Now what’s the difference? Well, in a regular convention, delegates gather in one location. But unless things dramatically change between now and then, holding a regular convention would just not be possible, due to Virginia’s COVID-19 restrictions. 

In an unassembled version, party officials set up regional polling places across the state. However, just like in the regular version, only certified delegates can vote. Each local party selects these delegates. Then each person has to pay convention dues, typically $35, in order to vote.

All Five Democrats Make the Ballot

On the Democratic side, the party chose a June 8 primary. That meant each candidate had to collect signatures to qualify, submitted by March 25 at 5 p.m. This year, Democrats had to present 2,000 signatures from local residents, with at least 50 from each district. Now that’s a bit of a change. Previously, you had to collect 10,000 signatures, with 100 from each district. Del. Lee Carter, one of the Democratic candidates, along with lieutenant governor candidate Paul Goldman, filed a lawsuit to challenge that requirement, arguing it should be reduced due to the pandemic. A judge agreed, which is how we arrived at the 2,000 number. 

All five candidates submitted the signatures in time. That included former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, current State Sen. Jennifer McClellan, current Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, current Del. Lee Carter and former governor Terry McAuliffe.

However, when they submitted the signatures is just as important as how many got turned in. That’s because the submission time determines how they’re placed on the ballot. For example, Jennifer Carroll Foy, Jennifer McClellan and Terry McAuliffe all submitted their material on March 8 at noon. That currently puts them in a tie for first. 

The State Board of Elections will hold a drawing March 31 to set the ballot order between those three. Lee Carter will be fourth on the ballot, as he submitted March 23. Justin Fairfax, meanwhile, will be last, as he submitted material just before the deadline.

Early voting for the primary starts on April 24.

What About the Rest of the Field?

And then there’s the two independent candidates, Princess Blanding and Brad Forman. Independent candidates don’t have a primary, so they advance directly to the November election. That’s why you haven’t seen either of them in the candidate forums and why they won’t be in the debates next month.

Brad Froman is the owner of Richmond’s Cool Blue Pictures. He ran as an independent write-in candidate against Sen. Mark Warner in 2014. In 2016, he ran against Levar Stoney for the Richmond mayor’s seat. He dropped out after failing to qualify for the ballot. 

Princess Blanding works as a middle school science teacher and is a social justice advocate.  In 2018, her brother Marcus-David Peters was killed by members of the Richmond Police Department. Peters was unarmed and experiencing a mental health crisis when police killed him. That year, protests calling for reforms to the city’s police department began in response to his death. Blanding was a leader of that movement.

Brian Carlton is Dogwood’s managing editor. You can reach him at [email protected].

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